You have to figure Abby Phillip of ABC News was late getting the memo. Phillip led off a story this week about Hillary Clinton's Series of Serious Speeches with what seems an unremarkable conclusion – that she is using the speeches as a way of "jumping back into the public sphere."
The topics of the speeches – voting rights, how to balance transparency and national security and how our security policies are perceived around the world – certainly sound like those candidates would use to prepare the ground for a run.
The voting rights question has obvious political dimensions – Democrats worry the recent Supreme Court ruling overturning much of the Voting Rights Act will lead to Voter ID laws and other measures that clean up the voter rolls but which they believe favor Republicans. The other two are designed specifically to inoculate Hillary against the scandals most likely to bring her down in a campaign – Benghazi and NSA snooping.
But beyond Phillip, one has had a hard time finding any definitive talk about Hillary and 2016 and the White House. We hear about the shadow campaign being assembled – James Carville, Harold Ickes and others. We hear Huma Abedin will be rejoining Team Hillary as soon as her husband's debacle of a mayoral campaign winds down.
And we hear plenty about other candidates. We practically have the entire guest list for Democratic Sen. Tom Harkin's Steak Fry in Iowa, including Vice-President Biden. Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, Govs. Andrew Cuomo of New York and Martin O'Malley of Maryland and even Sen. Elizabeth Warren from Massachusetts are also being floated as 2016 Dem possibilities. And every time a plane leaves the ground with Ted Cruz or Rand Paul or any of the other Republican contenders, we hear all about it.
But with Hillary, it's different. Politico spent 3,000 words describing how she is setting up her Manhattan office at the Clinton Foundation. Not a word in there about launching other campaigns.
Klobuchar, Warren and the like are welcome to rattle the pots and pans and play presidential candidate for fun for awhile, but that's only because the party does not perceive them as a threat to the coronation of Hillary. As Majority Leader Harry Reid said in May, the nomination "is Hillary's, if she wants it."
Now, it's no secret that virtually all the mainstream media would get behind a Hillary candidacy. First woman president. Extension of the progressive policies enacted by the first black president. So why are they holding their powder?
Could it be they have decided the less said the better? That it might make sense now to let other candidates attack each other while she stays above the fray in some kind of holding pattern?
They know this campaign is coming. They know there would be no high-profile Series of Serious Speeches otherwise. No war room assembling with Carville in command. No Huma. No "Ready For Hillary" PAC already raising funds for her run. So why do they have so little to say?
It could be they have realized two things about her. One, the idea of Hillary in various leadership positions always has been more amenable than the reality. In 2008, the more her voters learned about her and where she would take the country, the more they turned to Barack Obama. Which means the longer she has to talk about what she would do as president now (and what she did as Secretary of State, particularly with regard to Benghazi), the less the candidacy will be focused on her being the First Woman To Become President.
Second, it could be the moderate lefties who run America's big newsrooms feel a little burned right now. They went all-in – and I mean all-in – for President Obama, and it is growing exceedingly difficult, even for them, to declare his time in office to have been a success. The economy has not responded, despite the financial regulations he imposed in Dodd-Frank and the $700 billion stimulus that was all his idea. Debt has continued to climb. His foreign policy gets messier by the day, and his signature legislative accomplishment – ObamaCare – now faces a death panel of its own.
But whatever it is, the media is protecting Hillary. They refuse to treat her as a candidate, though she obviously is one. They won't subject her to proper scrutiny, allow debate on her policy proposals or force her to answer for past actions in public life. They sees this as a favor to the Clintons, but it is not. Better to get those tough questions behind her now. By this time next year, it will be impossible for her to hide.
- Read Stephanie Slade: How Republicans Can Meld Libertarianism and Populism
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